A little over a month-and-a-half after the demise of singer Krishnakumar Kunnath, popularly known as KK, who passed away hours after performing at Nazrul Mancha, the Kolkata Municipal Development Authority (KMDA) has said the capacity of the auditorium cannot cross 2,000.
On May 31, when KK performed at the auditorium, the hall allegedly had nearly 7,000 people.
“After observing the turnout in some of the programmes over the past few weeks, we made a fresh assessment of the existing infrastructure at the venue. Considering all aspects, we have decided the seating capacity will not be allowed to cross 2,000,” said a senior official of KMDA, which is the custodian of the venue on the Rabindra Sarobar premises.
“This way, even if some people sneak in for a high-voltage show, the auditorium will never be packed to its capacity,” the official said.
There have been allegations that Nazrul Mancha was hosting programmes exceeding its seating capacity, which is 2,482.
On May 31, KK suffered a heart attack and died hours after the show.
The official said: “We have conveyed the decision (on revised capacity) to police who are responsible for giving an NOC (no-objection certificate) for a programme at this auditorium. The organisers will have to give an undertaking to the police stating the number of visitors for a programme and that figure cannot exceed 2,000.”
“We will run a parallel check and stamp tickets at the gates before an attendee enters the venue,” he said.
Within a week of KK’s death, Kolkata police had drawn up several guidelines for holding a programme at Nazrul Mancha. These included making arrangements for two ambulances with doctors outside the hall for emergencies.
On Tuesday, senior police officers said they had started implementing the new seating norms.
“A programme organised by an engineering college on Sunday featured a Bengali rock band. The number of tickets was restricted to 1,700,” said a senior police officer.
Set up in 1980, Nazrul Mancha could seat around 3,500 people. The capacity was later brought down to 2,482.
The open-air theatre was converted into an air-conditioned auditorium in 2013.
Earlier this year, the urban development department spent close to Rs 9 crore on its renovation, including overhauling the air-conditioning system, repairing the roof and changing the acoustics.
Senior engineers who have examined the facilities at the venue said the four exit doors have been marked clearly so that organisers are aware of which ones to open at the end of a programme.
The police, too, have been briefed so that they know the exits, the engineers said.